Residence of Mrs. Sarah Graves. Sec 19-20-32 - From the 1903 Benton County Altas
Early Settlers by Alvin Seamster The Benton County Democrat (1950) The Century of Progess Edition - Now the NWA Democrat Gazette
The early homes of the settlers were made from hewed logs, or when they did not have a broad axe, the logs were notched and placed in order while still round, using sticks and mud for chinking. When a building was to be raised, all the neighbors for miles around were notified and the men folks would come and help and sometimes the entire house could be put up in a day.
The shingles were clap-boards, made by riving them out of split logs with a froe. They were then placed on poles for rafters and bound together by other poles, as there were no nails at that time. All the joints were put together with wooden pins and the hinges for the doors were made of wood; also the floors were puncheon, or split logs with the top of them dressed and fastened to the sills with wooden pegs.
The chimneys were mostly made with sticks and dirt, daubed with clay. Some were made of flat stones and lime and clay were used to keep them in place. The fireplaces were made large enough so the whole family could get in front of it and still do the cooking. Most of the equipment was merely pots and dutch ovens. There were few stoves at that time.
The meat needed was already here and they had bear, deer, turkey and other meats, as they were very plentiful at that time. The settlers at War Eagle said that only two buffalo were ever seen near that place and they came there.
Most of their guns were flintlock, with several bringing percussion cap muzzle loaders with them. Some of the old guns are still here in Bentonville. Others made their own guns from steel rods. An expert blacksmith could make a good gun and put the rifles in it. It was usually a guess as to the caliber, but they made the bullet molds to fit the gun.
The first Jacksons settling west of town said that nearly every hollow tree was filled with honey, and that the wild berries of every kind grew in the woods -- the strawberries being as large as our tame ones now. As canning was not in vogue at that time, the children picked the berries and they were dried on the roofs of the buildings and put away for winter use, as were the first apples and green beans.
When they robbed a bee tree, they always had a tanned deer hide, sewed together in the shape of a sack and filled it with the honey and hung it in the smoke-house - sometimes having as much as two bushels of honey for the winter.
They tried to save some of the corn brought here for planting, and after raising a crop they were confronted with how to make meal from it. They solved this problem by burning out the center of a large stump, keeping the outer edges wet, making a hollow that would hold a bushel or more. After placing the corn in the stump, they tied a large stone to a pole and two people turned and twisted and pounded the corn until it was made into meal.
The bread made from this meal was called hoe cakes, and that with any variety of meats they cared to have , with honey, hominy, milk, butter and sometimes sugar and coffee made their meal. At various places over the county, near a spring or creek, they tapped the sugar maples and made their own sugar and syrup. I have seen some of the trees that are now and have been tapped for more than 100 years.
This image is of the War Eagle Roller Mills taken from the 1903 Benton County Atlas
About 1848, there was a horse mill erected near War Eagle, and a little later, a water grist mill; also one was erected on Flint Creek on the Indian Territory side that accommodated the people on the west side of the county.
Some of the hardships endured by the women of the first settlers was the making of cloth from wool and cotton, also tanning hides to be used for clothing. Their dyes were made from the hulls of walnuts, berries of shumac and juices boiled from the barks of the trees. Their soaps were made from lye, by putting ashes in a hopper and pouring water over them, then using all the waste grease for soap making. Any of the old timers can tell you what a job it was to carry water for the ash hopper and then keep the calves and chickens from drinking out of the vessels after it ran through the hopper.